Rick Hodge at retirement. Pic: iHeartRadio
Rick Hodge at retirement. Pic: iHeartRadio

Media Beat: November 02, 2018

Netflix Dominance Now Challenged By Bell Media

Bell Media is tackling Netflix and Amazon Prime Video head-on next week with an OTT package combining The Movie Network, HBO Canada and CraveTV into one streaming service called Crave.ca

In doing so, the dominant media player in the country is about to open the gates to 11,000+ hours of content previously only available to cable subscribers of The Movie Network and HBO Canada.

Under the new Crave+ they will have the option to join other cord-cutters, though some cable providers may sell the Crave package at a discount with other set-top TV offerings.

Included in Bell Media’s exclusive library of content in the home market is access to premium US TV brands such as Showtime and Starz, all of which combine to offer a compelling menu of material that can effectively compete with current dominant competitors in the market.

The basic Crave.ca package is priced at $9.99 monthly; in line with Netflix and Amazon packages. For an additional $9.99, Crave + Movies + HBO includes HBO’s current lineup of that include its TV series, films and documentaries.

In a statement Thursday, Bell Media president Randy Lennox said that “Crave is immediately positioning itself as the leading option in Canada’s increasingly competitive streaming and SVOD market.”

That same day, Canadian Press’s David Friend quotes Lennox as saying: “Every day you read about a new offering that’s in the marketplace.” Highlighting how Crave is now considered both a TV and online option, he added that “we’re trying to be on both sides of the highway.”

The new Crave+ package includes all of Showtime and older HBO series previously on CraveTV, plus a roster of more recent shows like new seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld.”

The complete details of the new service can be found on the Bell Media website here. – Outside sources: Financial Post, Now magazine, The Hollywood Reporter

“Sports Snorts” Rick Hodge takes retirement

Once a part of CHUM-FM’s powerhouse morning team with Roger Ashby and Marilyn Denis, and Sports Director at the station for 38 years, Hodge made a brief appearance on CFRB in the city and then, in 2012 became co-host with Lori Love at EZ-FM Niagara.

His commentaries on the CHUM-FM morning show, dubbed “Sports Snorts”, were unique, informative, extremely personal, and more than not inflected with humour and insider knowledge.

He retires effective the end of his shift today, Nov. 2.

“It’s been a privilege to finish my career in my hometown alongside my on-air partner of six years, the talented Lori Love,” Hodge said in a prepared statement issued by the station’s owner, Bell Media. “I’d also like to thank the entire staff at the building we call ‘The White House’ and the dedicated 105.7 EZ Rock listeners for all their support.”

“Rick Hodge remains a true staple in Canada’s radio industry and has connected with listeners in St. Catharines, Toronto, and beyond,” said Nikki Moffat, President, Radio and Local TV, Bell Media. “Though we will miss his thoughtful and inviting presence to kick off each day, I wish him the very best in his retirement and thank him for his contributions over four decades on the air.”

“Rick Hodge has added brilliant energy to 105.7 EZ Rock mornings, offering a positive spirit and quality conversation alongside Lori Love,” said Lisa Vinc, Program Director, 105.7 EZ Rock. “On behalf of the entire team, I’d like to offer best wishes and thanks to Rick as we get ready for his final broadcast.

Jj Johnson salutes Rob Braide

Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones”. Today we are shining the light on Rob Braide.

We were both in Ottawa in radio at a very young age and met then briefly, although a lot of that time is a little fuzzy... He went off to Montréal, and I headed to Toronto in our respective radio paths, and it would be some time before our paths crossed again.

When I came to work with Gary Slaight and the Standard team, I thoroughly enjoyed working with Rob, and he helped me integrate. He’s a bigger than life character, always full of good cheer, a lot of jokes and always fun. Lots of stories to tell and this one is about a hopeless Habs Fan and this long-suffering Leafs fan. It was an endless source of trash talking. Once while all of the Standard management team were at Rob’s, he was proud to show us the original seats he had secured from the shrine of the Canadiens, the Forum. The Habs were in a bit of a slump at the time. Rob asked me to sit in one of the seats and tell everyone how it felt. I said, “It feels like I’ve lost seven in a row”. Duh! Can you say crickets! Skunk at the picnic? We had more refreshments and moved on.

When he first heard the Beatles on CFCF in 1962 (he’s pretty sure Dave Boxer was on the air), he knew right away what he was going to do.

His parents were very musical. They played Rob Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers before he ever heard Elvis. They were big on soundtracks as well, and the songs of The King and I, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins were ‘second nature to him’ by the time he was eight. In fact, he used to put on The West Side Story before going out to play: “I loved the bravado of the Puerto Rican gangs so well portrayed. Not that I’ve ever been in a fight...Just a great groove. It started a lifelong love affair with the music of Leonard Bernstein.”

He fell for the Beatles just as we all did back then. After frowning on his adoration of them, his folks gave it up when the Rolling Stones arrived. The Beatles were nice boys in suits compared to the nasty black jeans of The Stones.

They always lived in Montréal except for a couple of years in Woodbridge north of Toronto, then five years in Ottawa at Carleton University. It was during that time in Ontario that his Mom took him to his first concert, Red Buttons and Little Stevie Wonder opening for The Supremes at O’Keefe Centre followed shortly after that by the Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens. The opener was 'The Circle' who had their hit 'Red Rubber Ball'. He can’t remember seeing much more than flashbulbs.

He never really played an instrument well enough to make a living at it so concentrated on trying to get work as a radio DJ. Like most he attached a rocket ship radio to the radiator in his bedroom with a wire so that he could listen to jocks like Cousin Brucie and Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsberg on the skip from cities like New York and Boston late into the night.

He fell for The Beach Boys and some of the romantics of the day. He bought 45’s with every penny he could find…Question Mark and the Mysterians, The Standells, Herman’s Hermits, The Animals...He started his record collection that now runs to over 12,000 titles. Cylinders, 78s, 45s, LPs, CDs and probably five levels of MP3 compression. He's dusted off his old Technics SL 1600 and set up a kick-ass old school sound system in his place in the Laurentians and just loves it.

That said, he is now a constant user of Spotify. Each Friday he pulls up Louder from the NYT and Release Radar and Discover Weekly and adds tracks he loves to a monthly playlist. He thinks he’s finally trained the algorithm to bring him both what he likes and what it thinks he might. He calls himself ‘a great white shark for new music’.

CKGM was the engine of discovery in Montréal back in the 60's and 70's; The high-powered jocks like George Morris, Gord Logan, 'Mais Oui' Marc Denis, Ralph Lockwood, Robert G Hall, Scott Charpentier and Rob Christie to mention just a few.

Then along came CHOM FM and hash, and Led Zeppelin, Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Frank Zappa and there was no looking back. Doug Pringle, Angus Mackay, and Earl Jive. All he wanted to do was work at CHOM. He lived two blocks away and went to school two blocks further West. He could not walk down the side of Greene Ave. where the old Graystone building was because “My heart would beat too hard in my chest…seriously.”

He decided to go to University in Ottawa at Carleton only because they had a great campus station and you had to be a student to take part. He worked hard to get ahead there and soon became Program Director and part of the team that launched CKCU FF, Radio Carleton in 1975. It was Canada’s first student-run station with a limited commercial policy. Working on that Licence under the guidance of Randy Williams and Craig Mackie was his introduction to the CRTC and the world of regulatory affairs that would shape much of his career.

He says the debt he owes to those two people and so many more at CKCU is impossible to calculate; “they gave me my professional future.”

CHEZ FM launched a couple of years later, and 365’er Harvey Glatt (a man he, and the entire industry has enormous respect for) hired all their DJs and tore the campus station apart. It healed quickly as those wonderful institutions do. Rob says “When I called the PD to say ‘what about me?’ I was told I had no future in radio. Oh, the things that make us run…”

After multiple attempts to get work at CHOM, he chanced upon a call from dear friend Angus Mackay who had been one of the founding fathers of CHOM. They were looking for a bilingual all-night announcer. Somehow, he convinced PD Terry Nutt that he was fluent and all he ever wanted to do was all-nights. He could not speak much French at all and doesn’t think he had ever seen a sunrise, but he gave Rob the job, and they became good pals.

Bob Beauchamp became his great mentor and helped him understand the unique relationship CHOM had with the two linguistic communities. The days of Harmonium, Beau Dommage, Dianne Dufresne, Marjo and so many great Franco acts that only got play on CHOM until CKOI launched some years later.

The arrival of Joint Communications and Dave Charles and 365'er John Parikhal (“One of the few original thinkers I’ve ever met who continues to be one of my best best friends”) changed his career course. After some resistance, they launched the Burkhart/Abrams style format and the station doubled its audience in the next ratings. – Continue reading Jj’s profile on Rob on his Facebook page.

Leave a comment